British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 10

Testimony of George Symons, cont.

11732. (The Attorney-General.) I think, My Lord, if you read on that is all right. If you read on a little you will see he asked the question quite correctly, and evidently you misunderstood it?
- That is right, Sir.

11733. He is asked: "How many passengers did you have on her?" I suppose he meant passengers in the boat. "(A.) From 14 to 20. (Q.) Were they passengers or crew? - (A.) They were passengers. At first they put in seven of the crew. There was seven men ordered in, two seamen and five firemen. They were ordered in by Mr. Murdoch. (Q.) How many did this boat carry? - (A.) I could not say for certain. It was one of the small accident boats. (Q.) After she got into the water would she take any more? - (A.) She would have taken more. (Q.) How many did you have, all told? - (A.) I would not say for certain. It was 14 or 20. Then we were ordered away. (Q.) You did not return to the ship again? - (A.) Yes, we came back after the ship was gone and we saw nothing." It still leaves it rather in doubt, I think, that is all there is about the numbers. (To the witness.) Do you mean to say that the 14 or 20 that you said was meant to include everybody in the boat?
- Yes, everybody.

The Attorney-General:
But you knew you were only twelve, all told?

The Commissioner:
It does not strike me that that is what it means. The question is put: "How many passengers did you have on her?" and the answer is: "From 14 to 20. (Q.) Were they passengers or crew? - (A.) They were passengers. At first they put in seven of the crew. There were seven men ordered in, two seamen and five firemen. They were ordered in by Mr. Murdoch. (Q.) How many did this boat carry? - (A.) I could not say for certain. It was one of the small accident boats. (Q.) After she got into the water would she take any more? - (A.) She would have taken more. (Q.) How many did you have all told?" Of course that may mean crew and passengers, but it does not read as if it did.

The Attorney-General:
Certainly; the earlier questions do not.

11734. The Commissioner: "(A.) I would not say for certain. It was 14 or 20. Then we were ordered away." But anyway you must have known perfectly well when you gave this evidence that the number in that boat of yours was 12 and no more. Why did you say 14 or 20?
- How do you mean, Sir, at that time?

11735. Yes. In America before the Court there. You must then have known quite well how many there were in your boat?
- Yes, Sir, speaking in that way.

11736. Why did you tell them in America that there were 14 to 20 people in the boat when you knew as a fact that there were only 12?
- I think myself, Sir, that the mistake I made then was through the way they muddle us about there.

The Commissioner:
There does not seem much muddling about that.

11737. (The Attorney-General.) You were asked a very plain question: "How many passengers did you have in her? - (A.) From 14 to 20. (Q.) Were they passengers or crew? and your answer is, "They were passengers." - There must have been a mistake there, because I distinctly told Senator Bourne, or whatever his name was, the people that were in the boat.

11738. We have got exactly what you said; it was taken down in shorthand. "At first they put in seven of the crew." Did you know the names of the other passengers?
- No.

11739. Did you know the names of any of the passengers?
- No, Sir, none whatever.

11740. When you were in America?
- In America, yes, because I knew the gentleman then Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon.

11741. But did you know anybody else?
- No.

11742. I notice that there is nothing in your statement here or in the deposition to show that Mr. Murdoch had given you the order to go a short way off and stand by and come back when called?
- No, there is nothing in the evidence.

11743. You never said that before?
- I never said that before.

11744. Not till I asked you today?
- Not till you asked me today. You put the question to me in a proper manner, whereas in America they did not, in that way of speaking.

11745. Did you tell the gentleman who saw you at weymouth that that order had been given?
- Yes, Sir.

The Commissioner:
Is there anything in this American evidence about the money?

11746. (The Attorney-General.) I am going to ask him about that. There are two further things that I want to ask him, but I may as well put that to him first. Did you say anything in America about having received the £5?
- Nothing whatever, and I was not asked, or asked to make a statement previously, of what was given in the boat.

11747. I may take it that nothing was said about it at all?
- That is right, Sir.

11748. Just listen to what you said in America. This is just at the bottom of page 40 and the top of page 41 where you stopped just now, My Lord. "(Q.) You did not return to the ship again? - Yes, we came back after the ship was gone, and we saw nothing. (Q.) Did you rescue anyone that was in the water? - No, Sir; we saw nothing when we came back. (Q.) Was there any confusion or excitement among the passengers? - No, Sir; nothing whatever; it was just the same as if it was an everyday affair. (Q.) Was there any rush to get into either one of these boats? - (A.) No, Sir, I never saw it. I never saw any rush whatsoever. (Q.) Did you hear any cries of people in the water? - (A.) Oh, yes, Sir; I heard the cries. (Q.) Did you say your boat could take more? Did you make any effort to get them? - Yes, we came back, but when we came back we did not see anybody nor hear anybody. (Q.) Then, what did you do after that? - (A.) After we rowed around, we rowed around and picked up with another boat, and both stuck together; one boat with a lot of people." I have called your attention to that. You see you were asked these very questions which we have been putting to you today, first, whether you heard cries of people in the water. You remember that?
- Yes.

11749. Then you were asked whether you made any effort to get there, that is the people from whom you heard the cries?
- Yes.

11750. It is pointed out to you that you had said your boat could take more?
- Yes, I did say so.

11751. Your answer to that is, "Yes, we came back, but when we came back we did not see anybody nor hear anybody."?
- That is quite right.

11752. Why did not you tell him what you have told us today, that you heard the cries, but in the exercise of your discretion and as Master of the situation you had determined not to go back because you thought you might be swamped? Why did not you tell them that?
- My idea of the whole concern was that they had us in three at a time in America - that you have not got there I expect - to get us through as quick as possible. He was putting his questions as quick as he possibly could to get us through - three of us; that was Hogg, Perkis, and myself.

11753. You realise that this does not give quite a true account, does it, as I read it to you?
- No, not the same as I have given here.

11754. It leaves out altogether this important matter about whether or not you should go back to save these people?
- Yes, that is left out.

11755. Nothing was said about that at all?
- Nothing was said to me about that whatever.

11756. I do not quite understand, you know, why you suggest that you were muddled about it there. The senator put this question to you: "Did you make any effort to get them?" and your answer is, "Yes, we came back, but when we came back we did not see anybody nor hear anybody." - That was the question that he put to me when I said that answer. I told him what I had done, which I do not expect is in that evidence. I told him what I had done - that we were rowing away and we came back again and turned round to pick up the other boats.

11757. You told him nothing about having determined not to go back in the exercise of your discretion?
- No, I told him nothing of that.

11758. Why did not you when he asked you whether you took any steps to get the people back, tell him that part of the story; it is the most important part, is it not?
- Yes, Sir, an important part.

11759. A thing which must have impressed itself on your memory?
- Quite so, Sir.

11760. You have thought about it a good deal since?
- Yes.

11761. You have realised that if you had gone back you might have saved a good many people?
- Quite so.

11762. (The Commissioner.) And there is this question put to you at the end: "Is there any other incident that you wish to state that would be of interest to the public"?
- No, Sir, not that I know of.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

11763. I think you stated to Sir rufus Isaacs that you had not given your address to Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon?
- I stated to you, Sir, that I did not give it to him on the ship.

11764. But you said, did not you, that Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon was to send a telegram to your relatives?
- That is as far as I understood from the fireman.

11765. So that Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon had got both the name and address of you and of every other member of the crew?
- He must have it if he gave it.

Mr. Scanlan:
That was the paper that was produced by his counsel today.

Mr. Duke:
You are quite mistaken, Mr. Scanlan.

11766. (Mr. Scanlan.) When did you first learn that one of your passengers in this boat was Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon?
- About two days after we were rescued.

11767. Do you mean to say you did not know during the time you were in the emergency boat?
- Quite so; neither did I know till two days after we were rescued who the gentleman was.

11768. I suppose you knew that the "Titanic" had over 1,300 passengers?
- Oh, yes. I do not know exactly the number, of course.

11769. And 892 of a crew - that altogether you had on board over 2,200 people?
- I do not know the exact numbers, of course.

11770. Did you realise that you had not lifeboat accommodation for half the people you had on board?
- Yes.

11771. You knew that?
- Yes.

11772. Whilst you were assisting to lower and fill with passengers the other boats, Nos. 3, 5, and 7, you observed, did you not, each boat got a full complement of passengers?
- She had a full complement to lower from the davits.

11773. Was yours the only boat that was lowered from that side without a full number of passengers?
- That I could not say.

11774. Had you seen any of the other boats being lowered into the water with plenty of spare accommodation for passengers?
- No, Sir; I did not see no more.

11775. Your boat corresponds exactly to the boat on the opposite side - to emergency boat No. 2?
- Yes.

11776. Do you know that No. 2 boat took off 23 to 25 passengers, chiefly women. Did you know that?
- No, Sir; I did not know that.

11777. At the time the emergency boat No. 1 was being lowered the position of the ship had not become very dangerous, had it?
- No, not very dangerous.

11778. It would have been quite a simple matter to have kept No. 1 boat on the davits slung ready for taking on passengers until a search was made throughout the ship for passengers?
- Well, yes, we could have done that.

11779. I beg your pardon?
- Yes, that could have been done.

11780. Can you explain to my Lord how it is that this order was given for your boat to go away with only five passengers?
- I cannot say, Sir.

11781. Was there any person directing operations on the boat deck besides Mr. Murdoch?
- Mr. Murdoch and the boatswain.

11782. Who is the boatswain?
- Nichols.

11783. Has he been saved?
- No, Sir.

11784. Did you see Mr. Ismay?
- No, Sir.

11785. On the deck at that time?
- No, Sir.

11786. Did you know him?
- Yes; I knew him by being on the "Oceanic" with him.

11787. Is it your evidence that there were no passengers, either male or female, on the deck?
- I saw none.

11788. Did you see any person at all, passengers or crew?
- The crew was there working at the surf boat, the collapsible boat as the gentleman said.

11789. Were not there people crowding aft of the boat - passengers?
- What do you mean, "crowding aft."?

11790. Were not there a number of people aft of the emergency boat?
- That I could not see from there. Those three boats there were gone.

11791. Knowing that you had not got accommodation for all the passengers you must have known and realised that there were plenty of passengers left behind in the ship, the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

11792. Did the crew you had got into No. 1 prove sufficient to enable you to row this No. 1 boat?
- Yes.

11793. The sea was calm?
- Yes.

11794. And the night was calm?
- Yes.

11795. The conditions could not have been more favourable for rescuing people?
- No.

11796. (The Commissioner.) What seaboard had you in this boat?
- That I could not give a satisfactory answer to.

The Commissioner:
But you ought to have known that before making up your mind that there was a danger from swamping?

11797. (Mr. Scanlan.) Is it your evidence that you rowed away in obedience to the order from the Officer to a distance of 150 to 200 yards?
- No, it was a quarter of a mile. That is the distance I rowed.

11798. The evidence of Hendrickson is that you rowed away to a distance of 150 to 200 yards. Do you contradict that?
- Yes; we rowed away to roughly about a quarter of a mile.

11799. If it is stated by Lady Duff-Gordon that you watched the boat go down from a distance of 200 yards, are you going to contradict that?
- It was more than that, Sir.

11800. What was the order you had got from Mr. Murdoch?
- To row away from the ship and to stand by to be called back.

11801. If you had gone away a quarter of a mile you could not have heard any call to come back?
- No, Sir. When we rowed away at first we were not a quarter of a mile away. That was when the ship went down.

11802. Before the ship went down, when you were standing by to obey any order you might get from Mr. Murdoch, or the Captain, what distance was it?
- Then we were about 200 yards.

11803. I put it to you that you remained stationary at a distance of 200 yards and watched the "Titanic" go down?
- No, Sir, we were going further away all the time she was going down.

11804. And that while you were within 200 yards of the "Titanic" the people were screaming for help in the water, and that the cries were heard by you and everybody else in the boat?
- Yes.

11805. 200 yards?
- No, Sir, over a quarter of a mile.

11806. There would have been no difficulty whatever in rowing back a quarter of a mile?
- Well no.

11807. Were any of your passengers seasick?
- That I could not see, Sir.

11808. (The Commissioner.) Did you look? Was Lady Duff-Gordon seasick?
- Lady Duff-Gordon I could not see; you could only just discern them. The only conversation that I caught once was Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon trying to cheer Lady Duff-Gordon up. That was the only conversation - some words he spoke to her, and that was nearly at the break of daylight.

11809. (Mr. Scanlan.) You heard no complaint during the night that any of the passengers were seasick?
- No, Sir, I heard no complaint whatever.

11810. Do you know that Hendrickson was sitting at the bow of this emergency boat?
- He was in the bow.

11811-2. Was Hendrickson next to Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon - the next seat to him?
- That I could not say for certain.

11813. Do you know where sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon was?
- I should think from what I saw in the morning that he was about the second seat from forward.

11814. So that Hendrickson would be considerably nearer to Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon than you were?
- Oh! Yes, Sir, nearer.

11815. I suppose there was a good deal of conversation in the lifeboat?
- If there was any conversation it was unknown to me. I never heard nothing.

11816. I mean in the lifeboat, this emergency boat?
- There may have been conversation between themselves.

11817. So that it is possible that Hendrickson may have said, "We should go back and try to rescue these people who are crying"?
- Yes. He may have said it, but I never heard it.

11818. And Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon may have said, "It is not possible for us to go back"?
- That I cannot say. He may have said it.

11819. When you say that you were surprised that no one asked you to go back, did you mean passengers?
- Anybody, Sir.

11820. You expected -?
- Someone to say something.

11821. Some of the passengers?
- I cannot say the passengers - anybody.

11822. Did you attribute to cowardice the fact that your passengers did not all ask you to go back?
- No, Sir. I never had a thought in my head of cowardice.

11823. Looking back on this whole incident, and considering that you had a boat practically empty, with only five passengers, and accommodation for fifteen or twenty more, was it not cowardice that prevented the passengers and the crew from going back?
- No, I cannot see that.

11824. Can you give any other account? Can you account for it in any other way except by the exercise of what you are pleased to call your discretion?
- That is right, Sir. That is the only thing I can see.

11825. You admit it was cowardly?
- No, I do not admit it was cowardly.

11826. Is not a seaman, when the passengers in his boat are in danger, expected to run risks in order to save life?
- Quite so.

The Commissioner:
This is mere argument, Mr. Scanlan.

Mr. Scanlan:
I shall not press it further, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Have a little mercy on the man.

11827. (Mr. Scanlan.) There is one point about your boat I want to ask you. Did you find this emergency boat properly equipped?
- No, Sir; it never had no compass and no lamp in it.

11828. Was it deficient in any other respect?
- I think - I will not say for certain - there were no biscuits in the boat.

11829. Did you find that binocular glasses were useful, especially at night on the look-out?
- Yes.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

11830. How was this £5 paid to you?
- What do you mean, Sir.

Mr. Edwards:
It is a simple question.

11831. (The Commissioner.) It is a very simple question. What shape did you get it in?
- Just in a form, Sir - a sheet of paper.

11832. (The Solicitor-General.) A cheque?
- No, not a cheque.

11833. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) A £5 note?
- No, a sheet of paper.

11834. It was an order?
- Yes; an order.

11835. An order upon whom?
- That I could not tell you, I have not studied it that much.

11836. Have you still got it?
- No, Sir, not here.

11837. Have you got it at home?
- Yes, it is at home.

11838. (The Commissioner.) Have not you changed it?
- No, Sir. I have not got quite to that yet. I have a shot in the locker left.

11839. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) You are a pretty thrifty sort of man, are you?
- Well, yes.

11840. Do you ever pay any money into the bank at all?
- What do you mean? Is that a question to put? That is my own private affairs. I do not think that is right. That is not right, Sir.

11841. I see. Have you got a banking account?
- It is not right for me to answer that.

11842. Have you paid any money into that banking account recently?
- That is not for me to answer.

The Commissioner:
You want his passbook, you know.

11843. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) What have you done with this order?
- It is at home, Sir.

11844. That is not paid in yet?
- No, Sir; I still have that paper.

11845. What is the order for?
- £5.

11846. Do you swear that?
- Yes, by Heaven above, or God above, as you say.

11847. (The Commissioner.) Five pounds or five dollars?
- Five pounds, Sir.

11848. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Did you get any money from anybody else?
- No, Sir, none whatever.

11849. Do you know who the other passengers were?
- No, Sir.

11850. Have you seen them since?
- Seen them once on the "Carpathia," and that is all.

11851. You did not take the trouble to find out who they were?
- No, they were of no interest to me.

11852. Was one of the ladies Mrs. Astor?
- No.

11853. You are sure of that?
- Yes, positive.

11854. You know Mrs. Astor independently, do you?
- I saw her once before on the "Oceanic."

11855. You said that you did not see Mr. Ismay?
- No.

11856. Were you about No. 3 boat when she was lowered?
- Yes.

11857. Could Mr. Ismay have been giving directions to that boat without you seeing him?
- The only man that was giving -

11858. Will you answer my question, please?
- What did you say? Say it again.

11859. Could Mr. Ismay have been giving directions for the lowering of No. 3 boat if you were there without you seeing him?
- I did not hear anybody giving any orders.

11860. Will you answer my question, please?
- I can only say he may have been there or he may not have been there. That is all I can say to that.

The Commissioner:
And it is a very good answer.

11861. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) We have heard something about a photograph. Were you taken in a photograph on the "Carpathia"?
- Yes, I was took in several photographs this last month. It's quite nice to know you are so big.

11862. Were you taken in a photograph with the passengers and crew of your boat?
- Yes, Sir.

11863. Have you got that photograph?
- No, Sir; I have seen nothing of it.

11864. At whose request was it taken?
- That I could not say.

11865. Who asked you to go into the picture?
- The passengers that was around the "Carpathia" at the time.

11866. The particular passengers on this boat?
- No, I did not know none of them.

11867. Did Lady Duff-Gordon ask you?
- No, Sir, she never asked. We were all there together.

11868. Did Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon ask you?
- No, Sir.

11869. Did you write your name on a lifebelt?
- Yes.

11870. At whose request?
- At Lady Duff-Gordon's.

11871. When was that done?
- It may have been a day or a couple of days before we got into New York.

11872. You told the learned Attorney-General that you thought in your discretion it would be dangerous to go back until everything was over?
- No, not everything was over.

11873. That is what you said.
- I mean to say my evidence was in that respect till I thought everything was safe for the boat to go back.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

11874. Did you realise when your boat No. 1 was lowered into the water that the "Titanic" was sinking?
- No, Sir, not at that time.

11875. When did you first realise that?
- When we got away from the ship.

11876. How soon after you got away?
- About five minutes I suppose.

11877. You told us she had a list to starboard?
- Yes, at that time.

11878. Did you actually see that by the deck?
- The only way you could tell was by the lowering of the boat.

11879. You only judge she had it because of the way the boat went down?
- If she had had a list to port the boat would have hung over her deck.

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